The Los Angeles Unified School District has announced that regardless of vaccination status students and staff will have to show a negative COVID-19 test before returning to classes when they resume from winter break next week.

The second largest school district in the nation announced the updated guidelines Monday as health officials in the county battle a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant.

“Keeping our schools safe is a top priority for Los Angeles Unified,” the district said. “As a united Los Angeles Unified community, we will work together to ensure the safety of our students.”

The district also pushed back the start of the spring semester for all K-12 students to Jan. 11, while designating Jan. 10 as a “Pupil Free Day” for school site employees.

Starting Monday, it said, students and staff will be able to get a baseline test and that the results of the external PCR, antigen or at-home tests must be uploaded to the student’s Daily Pass account no later than Sunday.

Weekly testing will continue for all students and employees through the month while masking will be required at all times, indoors and out, it said.

The announcement was made amid surging cases in Los Angeles County, with the public health department stating COVID-19 cases among children have increased by 207% from the two-week period starting Nov. 8 and the two-week period ending Dec. 26.

The county health department said to aid schools with testing capabilities, it will distribute at-home test kits to L.A. County’s 1.4 million school-aged students.

“As students return to the classroom, we all need to follow the public health safety measures in place to ensure our schools can open safely after the winter break,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Monday. “Because higher community transmission creates additional challenges at our schools, everyone needs to do their part to slow the spread of the virus.”

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